Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and for good reason. Pickleball is fun, easy to play, accessible to almost anyone, and you only need a pickleball paddle, balls and some friends to play. So absolutely - you should get started with Pickleball and here is how to do it. If you've never seen pickleball, you are in for some real fun from the beginning.

Is it Hard to Learn Pickleball?

Have you ever played Ping Pong (table tennis)? Have you ever tried tennis? If you have, then you may have a bit of an advantage, but the great thing is, to play pickleball you don't need any experience at all. But if you regularly play tennis, you may have some arm and shoulder strength to help you score points in this sport. Because the basic rules are simple and easy to learn you can easily grab a ball and paddle and get going. In addition, a pickleball court is not nearly as big as a tennis court. As a result, playing pickleball is not as demanding physically. You can get started in pickleball even if you've never played other similar games before. Older players are enjoying the physical activity and are increasingly getting started in pickleball as a mild form of exercise.

Pickleball rules are easy to pick up and you can read about the most important 5 Rules of Pickleball.

Playing Pickleball is Social

Pickleball is first and foremost, a social sport that is fun for all ages and is best as doubles, though singles is also fun. So before you take the steps towards buying any equipment, make sure you know where to go to find a game. Courts are everywhere now, both indoors and out, and finding a pickleball game is rarely more than a click or phone call away.

This social game inspires play at many levels. For those getting started in pickleball, reading a beginner's guide is a great way to get introduced to the game. Since the rules are simple, a little homework in advance is a good idea. New players are joining this sport all the time and other players are easier to find than ever.

If you are trying to meet new players, joining a pickleball league could be perfect for you. Or perhaps you prefer open play which has some advantages too. Open play will mean seeing all different levels of competition. Games will have very different results too. You may even want to create your own pickleball league!

Pickleball games can be fast and furious or slower and more tactical. For those who've never played pickleball, this variety should be fun.

Your First Pickleball Paddle

Assuming you have some form of court shoe, ideally one for tennis, the most important item in your pickleball arsenal is your paddle. Pickleball paddles range in price from around $50 to about $150, with most being in the $80 to $100 range. If you plan to play regularly, you should plan to pay a little more. Like most things in life, and pickleball is no exception, improvedplayability often comes with a cost.  

Once you know your basic budget, then there are 3 basic considerations to make: Weight, Core & Surface Materials, and Length.

#1 - Weight

Paddles range in weight from 6oz to 9oz, with most being in the 7.0oz to 7.75oz range. You want to consider your strength and endurance and if you have any elbow and shoulder problems when contemplating the weight of your paddle. Consider starting out with a paddle of moderate weight (around 7.5 oz) to avoid potential problems for your arm, or your game. Lighter paddles will help with endurance and will allow you to generate more speed in your swing. Heavier paddles have more control and can help generate power, but you’ll get tired with it quicker.

#2 - Paddle Cores & Surfaces

The most popular core for paddles is a polymer honeycomb core. Simply, its high-quality plastic in a multi-celled honeycomb shape that give the paddle a combination of both good power and control, while also being lightweight. Most players prefer the polymer core because it can be used for both the power strokes at the start of a point and then it transitions well into the finesse game at the net, or the “kitchen”, where most of the point will be played.  

The other two cores are Nomex and Aluminum cores. Nomex, a fire-resistant material used in construction and airplane design, is very similar to strong cardboard. Nomex paddles are very powerful and are also the loudest of all the cores resounding a noticeable “twok” when a ball is struck. Nomex is not as strong at the net as its control and finesse is questionable, but if you want to add power to your game, it’s the best core by far.  

On the other end of the spectrum, aluminum cores are all about finesse. Great for dink shots at the net, they suck the power out of the ball making them a difficult choice for players that need the extra boost from the baseline, but great for players that excel at the net. An aluminum core is probably not a beginner’s paddle, but if you know you hit with maybe too much power, it might be a good choice for you.

The surface materials available for paddles moderate between graphite and fiberglass. Graphite paddles, in general, are better for the power game with their inflexible sturdy surface. Fiberglass can provide more feel and elasticity in your paddle.  

#3 - Length

The most noticeable aspect of all paddles are the differences in length. Limited to a length of 17inches, pickleball paddles cannot exceed 24 inches combined length and width (For example, a 17 inch long paddle must be no more than 7 inches wide). Most pickleball paddles adopt the square shape, providing a wide sweet spot for shots that often hit off center. The longer paddles, which are preferred by singles players for their extra reach, extend the sweet spot and provide greater reach which can be nice at the net, but sacrifices the more forgiving sweet spot of a wider paddle.

Considering these three factors will get you off to a great start. If you are looking for a more thorough guide, check out our Pickleball Paddle Buyers Guide.

Pickleball Balls

Once you have your paddle – then it's all about the ball – and the decision here is more about location than preferences. Sometimes confused with a whiffle ball (which is different), play is impacted by the kind of ball. Simply, there is an indoor ball and an outdoor ball, the differences being in the texture on the outside of the ball and how it interacts with the surface of the court. Different companies add slightly different texture and pop to the ball, but you need to try them out to see what you prefer on the court. Outdoor balls are characterized by having fewer holes than the indoor balls. The way the ball bounces will depend on whether you use more power, more spin, or both.

Balls are cheap too, so getting started in pickleball is not an expensive activity. Some will use eye protection especially outdoors. But once you have your paddle and a ball or two to keep you going, grab your court shoes and find a game!

Where Can I Play Pickleball?

Pickleball courts are popping up everywhere. You can find a pickleball court in public parks, private clubs, public schools and condo associations. Retirement communities are increasingly installing them for their residents and guests. Outdoor pickleball courts are especially popular in warm weather climates. You can start playing pickleball anywhere you can find pickleball players! Often, playing doubles is a great way to get started as you can get tips from the minute you step on the pickleball court.

Tennis courts will often now have a set of pickleball court lines painted on them. You also might find you can play the sport at your local gym. Clubs now have great courts and many amenities. But finding a place to play should not be an issue. You can even set up your own court in a parking lot by using a portable net. So getting started in pickleball can be amazingly easy to do.

Who is the USA Pickleball Association USAPA?

This group is the regulator of a professional pickleball tournament and the sport in general. Prize money is awarded in various categories like men's singles and doubles and women's singles and doubles. This is not for beginners as tournament play requires a good game for success. If you choose to enter a pickleball tournament, pay attention to the level of play to make sure you can play competitively.

Isn't it time you joined the fastest growing sport among racquet sports? It is time for you to start your own personal pickleball journey by grabbing a paddle and a ball and getting involved in this sport. The health benefits are equal to the fun benefits. You can have a ball while playing pickleball. Join in the fun and start your pickleball journey today!

Want to learn more about Pickleball, or explore other racquet sports? We have all the information you need!